Healthy Ministry in Complicated Times


I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

Eagle and Child

In 2002 I took this picture of The Eagle and Child in Oxford. This pub was the haunt of the Inklings, a writers’ group that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. They met there every Monday or Friday before lunch to drink and talk. I was alone and too chicken to go in by myself, but it’s cool to think of the meetings that took place within these walls.

The introduction to the White Horse Inn program describes a time five centuries ago when the masses met in taverns and public houses to discuss and debate ideas. From one such inn, the White Horse Inn in Cambridge, the Reformation came to the English speaking world.

I belong to various groups and attend meetings. I don’t expect to ever replicate what happened above, but I don’t think we’re trying hard enough. Although I have a few friends who fit the bill, and I’ve experienced a little about what I’m about to describe, it’s only enough to tease me and make me want more.

Here’s what I’d love to find: a group of people who get together and:

  • Eat. There has to be food. Something happens when you turn to others around a table and eat steak and kidney pie or whatever, and lift a glass together. The whole experience becomes relational.
  • Discuss theology. I am tired of pragmatism. We need to get practical but we can’t start there. We can’t just emote, neither can we only talk how-to’s. Ideas have the power to change the world. I love sitting together with others who are not just wrestling with what to do but who are talking about what to think, who are dipping into some of the best thinkers of the past, and who believe the good stuff is found at the theological, not the methodological, level.
  • Are open but orthodox. Some of my best interactions have been when people from different backgrounds and beliefs are thrown together. Some groups I’m part of are too insular. I want a group that is orthodox but in which we benefit from those who think differently. In other words, it has to be a group in which we talk about our differences honestly but without getting all polemical.
  • Care about mission. If people like Christopher Wright are right (and I think they are) and mission is the basis of the entire Bible, then good theology will propel us into mission. We should become a group of people who are changing the world around us.

As I say, I have hints of some of these, but I want more. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.


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    http://www.joethorn.net/“ rel=”nofollow”>Joe Thorn used to do a Theology Pub with his church. I never got to attend, they live a bit too far south to make it practical for me. But it sounded like what you’re looking for. I’m longing for something like that too.

    Ok. So next time, let’s do food rather than just coffee and a pastry. And remember, Friends are friends for ever, if the Lord…

    Bill: Our little group has potential, but your musical taste is a bit of a roadblock. 😉

    Sounds great. I’d love to be part of a group like that.

    “I don’t expect to ever replicate what happened above” Darryl – Why not??! There is a lovely little pub on Burnhamthorpe where we can eat, drink , talk theology, be open and orthodox and seek opportunity to share some spiritual truth. Oh, wait a minute, you didn’t include drink in your list of requirements. An oversight, no doubt. And I agree with you that it needs to expand beyond just two. There is not a pub in the city that would object to this kind of meeting as long as we bought something – food, pop … I’m in – seriously. Let’s talk about it. Let us not make the mistake however, of thinking we are inkling-like.

    Food. Theology. Orthodoxically open. Mission minded. Great mix Darryl. When you’re ready to launch it, let us know. (Maybe we can hlep plan it, with you.) In the meanwhile, you might all like to check out the http://www.Conversations Journal. It helps keep people like us going and hoping (until something like the above is in our experience, eh!) Quote, from their first issue: “So the more we talked, the more we dreamed. And after a while, most of the dreaming was about a bigger table where others could sit too and join in: Orthodox and Pentecostals, Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, liberals and fundamentalists, pulling up chairs and putting differences aside to discuss what they hold in common— the desire to live life in love with God and each other. The desire to be transformed into a thinking, feeling, willing, behaving, and relating image of Christ.” YOu can download a free sample, here: http://www.conversationsjournal.com/subscribe/free/issue1.pdf“ rel=”nofollow”>http://www.conversationsjournal.com/subscribe/free/issue1.pdf Cheers!

    Darryl Great post. My wife, son and I actually went in “The Eagle and the Child” in 2005 and ate a meal. I wasn’t a coward, like you! It was a great place. Bryan

    I wish I were closer . . . I certainly can relate to the longing. I agree that good theology leads to mission but you might want to turn that statement around. When thinking about gathering a group of people together in community like you are describing it might be better to think of mission first with the hope that theological discussion will follow. Think of Frost’s comments around “community versus communitas”. People gathering to discuss theology will grow old unless it is linked with mission (or even better grows out of mission). The old chicken and egg conversation.